Opinion

Reelect McDermott: He’s paying attention to Vashon | Editorial

A three-way race for King County Council’s District 8 seat means Vashon residents have a reason to weigh in on the primary election currently before voters — with mail-in ballots due Aug. 16. The Beachcomber urges voters to support Joe McDermott for what would become his first full, four-year term on the nine-member county council.

McDermott is being challenged by Diane Toledo, a laid-off county employee who ran for the open District 8 seat a year ago, and Goodspaceguy (aka Michael George Goodspaceguy Nelson), a perennial candidate for county office. 

There’s little contest here. McDermott, a well-connected Democrat and former state lawmaker, has raised $54,000 to Toledo’s $1,500 and to Goodspaceguy’s empty war chest. For McDermott and Toledo, it’s a rematch: The two vied for the post last year, when it was a contest to fill Dow Constantine’s seat on the council after he moved up to become the County Executive. McDermott won with 68 percent of the vote.

But the primary election gives us an opportunity to consider McDermott — a councilmember whose district includes West Seattle, Burien, parts of downtown Seattle and Vashon Island — and the role he’s played in the short, tough year he’s held the office.

McDermott has shown a fair amount of attention to Vashon, seizing his new post last December by putting forward legislation authorizing the county’s $36 million purchase of the 250-acre mine site on Maury Island. 

He also played a lead role in legislation that would profoundly alter the current system for public outreach in unincorporated areas such as Vashon. Meanwhile, he’s one of the sane voices on the council calling for a temporary $20 surcharge on license tabs to keep Metro’s vital bus service afloat — here on Vashon and throughout the county.

His leadership on these issues shows he’s considering the needs of the Island, the one rural, sparsely populated swath within his largely urban district. We hope he’ll continue to do so. And in that vein, we urge him to focus on a few other key issues in this quiet, ferry-dependent corner of his district.

First, he should hear the complaints of Islanders unhappy with the county’s Department of Development and Environmental Services, an agency some say is moribund and unresponsive and that Islanders go to great strides to avoid. Despite efforts on Constantine’s part, meaningful reform seems not to have taken hold. McDermott should play an active role in ensuring that DDES — vital to both our economic and ecological health — is moving in the right direction.

Second, we hope he’ll work hard to ensure the survival of the King County Ferry District, which provides direct service between Vashon and downtown Seattle — a vital link for the many Islanders who commute.

Third, we hope he’ll advocate for other critical services on the Island — such as maternal support services, a county division that faced huge cuts earlier this year, leading to the layoff of Vashon’s only public health nurse.

And finally, we believe he could show symbolic but important leadership by arguing against a 3 percent increase in councilmembers’ salaries scheduled to go into effect next year. Councilmembers are now paid $131,578, an extremely handsome sum at a time when many are facing financial hardship.

 

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